As was the case in May — and perhaps every month here on out — Netflix has something of a monopoly over anticipated June TV releases. There’s the fifth season of Orange Is the New Black, the ’80s-set women’s wrestling dramedy GLOW, the Naomi Watts-starring psychological thriller series Gypsy, and a taping of Nick Kroll and John Mulaney’s Oh Hello! on Broadway. But life continues on TV proper, too, with TNT’s premiere of Niecy Nash’s Sopranos-meets-Florida-nail-salon series Claws, Showtime’s airing of an Oliver Stone interview series with none other than Vladimir Putin, and the debut of Stephen King’s The Mist on Spike.
6/9: Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)
The next season of OITNB‘s storytelling will diverge a bit from what you may be used to, which could be a really good thing. In the past, the show has introduced too many disparate, crazy and sometimes inconsequential plot lines, with B-and-C plots about backstories, ephemeral romances, and in-fighting galore. These peaked in a mediocre third season, but while Season 4 started out as such, its conclusion was a harshly potent return to form. It looks like Season 5 could be even more focused, since it all takes place over the course of a few days, after a riot leads prisoners to take control of the Litchfield Correctional Facility. This major, drawn out event seems to drive the season, and thereby character motivations: and so this mega-talented, massive ensemble cast looks, from the trailer, to get to bring their characters together in surprising ways within a more cohesive arc.
6/11: Claws (TNT)
This Niecy Nash-starring series has everything from a focus on the gendered social space of the nail salon, through the stunningly bejeweled and shellacked cuticles therein, to Nash running away from burning corpses in boats and trying to hold a golden pistol with said shellacked/bejeweled nails, because the nails are actually affiliated with a not-so-legal pain clinic and its definitely-illegal money laundering scheme. It also has the rare (see Orange Is the New Black, above) perfect TV title.
6/12: The Putin Interviews (Showtime)
With Snowden, W., and World Trade Center all ranging in levels of mediocrity to sheer junk, Oliver Stone may not be making the best political films anymore. As our Film Editor Jason Bailey wrote back in 2016, “Your mileage my vary, but I have to go all the way back to 1999’s Any Given Sunday to find a really great feature that bore [Stone’s] name.”
Nevertheless, Stone has a legacy within the canon of political cinema in the way Vladimir Putin has a legacy within the violent stifling of political dissent. And so the fact that Stone had unprecedented access and interviewed Putin over a dozen times through the course of two years is reason enough to be intrigued by this Showtime documentary miniseries: more intriguing, however, is the unsettling fact that it seems Stone came out of the interviews somewhat enamored with Putin. (Though he makes a good point about not wanting to fall too heavily on Putin’s bad side… given that nuclear potential.)
Regardless of what role you conjecture Putin did or didn’t play in the election hacking, Putin has instituted rampant homophobia in Russia, has backed Bashar al-Assad in Syria, has annexed Crimea, and is both a domestic and international bully (not unlike many of America’s own worst presidents, particularly Trump). So regardless of whether these interviews boast the political message you’re hoping for, they’ll likely be a fascinating document of Putin performing likability — and, creepily, succeeding — to partially win over a filmmaker thought to be a master of cinematic political insight. Twin Peaks may no longer be Showtime’s weirdest programming.
6/13: Oh, Hello on Broadway (Netflix)
Oh, Hello on Broadway, the Broadway play by and starring John Mulaney and Nick Kroll, was itself based on their characters who’d occasionally make appearances on the Kroll Show, Late Night With Seth Meyers, Conan, and Comedy Bang! Bang!. Those characters had actually been created through a series of hosting gigs at a now-closed New York comedy club. Now, Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland — clearly the most medium-transcending crotchety old men around — are coming back to your screens by way of the stage: Netflix is airing a taping of their mega-hit play on June 13. Incidentally, the plot of the play itself is a similarly multilayered meta-thing: Gil and George are working on a play about two old roommates working on a play. In the New York Times review thereof, Ben Brantley praised Mulaney and Kroll’s work, or perhaps warned viewers: “Like most good theater, Oh, Hello exhales the transporting joy of actors’ becoming someone else so completely and infectiously that on some level we become them as well.” Anticipate your own sudden distaste for most things that aren’t tuna come June 13.
6/14: Blood Drive (Syfy)
“A global fuel shortage has ravaged civilization, but instead of going green, we went red,” the trailer for Syfy’s Blood Drive summarizes, and so you get the very heavy hint that the title is both a pun and the fundamental premise for this weird environmental sci-fi Grindhouse-homage series. Yes, “The fuck, this car’s running on human blood?” “Have you seen gas prices lately” is a real bit of dialogue.
6/20: Queen Sugar (OWN)
Queen Sugar concerns the Bordelon siblings, a trio returning to their family’s Louisiana sugarcane farm after their father suffers a stroke. This return will show us whether the siblings can prosper despite the obstacles they face: their different visions for the farm and subsequent in-fighting, along with the social pressures placed upon them by a patriarchal white industry steeped in a history of racialized brutality. The second season of Ava DuVernay’s OWN series will debut its second season with a two-part premiere on June 20 and 21.
6/22: The Mist (Spike)
Light precipitation doesn’t exactly sound like the best fodder for a TV series, but the mist of The Mist happens to contain monsters. Add to that the fact that this seems to be a narrative about how the true monsters are actually within the human characters; that this happens to be based on the Stephen King novella of the same name; and that Six Feet Under‘s Frances Conroy is one of the stars, and suddenly you have something quite intriguing. Unlike the novella, which is all set in a grocery store in which people are hiding out from the mean droplets and the beasts amongst the droplets, this adaptation takes place in multiple settings on lockdown, each becoming its own microcosmic horror show of human fear, ego, and power.
6/23: GLOW (Netflix)
GLOW is an enticing dive into presentations of gender and race at a fascinating point in American history and American TV history: a series based on a “real” but largely fictionalized TV phenomenon back in the ’80s, GLOW centers around the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, the syndicated women’s professional wrestling circuit. The series follows the lives of a handful of women — mostly struggling actresses — who audition to be part of the wrestling promotion, through the societal funhouse mirror of Hollywood and the particular performativity of wrestling. “Are you hiring actors to play wrestlers, or are we the wrestlers?” Alison Brie’s character asks the coach, played by Mark Maron. “Yes,” he responds, cryptically. Campy, socially relevant, and ’80s nostalgic, it looks like Netflix input a bunch of zeitgeist-y words into a TV-making mashup machine…and ended up with something potentially totally delightful. [That drug robot, tho — Ed.]
6/28: Broadchurch (BBC America)
David Tennant and Olivia Colman are back as Alec Hardy and Ellie Miller, respectively, investigating their final case, because bless British television for knowing that ending things before they sour is the best way to go.
6/30: Gypsy (Netflix)
Naomi Watts has already given the best performance that wasn’t by one of the many Kyle MacLachlans on the new Twin Peaks — and she’s about to have a series where she’ll presumably get to fully exercise her range. Gypsy is a psychological thriller in which Watts plays the world’s worst, most anxiety-inducing therapist — someone who embeds herself in and messes with her patients’ lives in wildly inappropriate ways.